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A Sustained contribution of the JRC to the EN Eurocodes

by Michel Géradin and Artur Pinto, Joint Research Centre, ELSA

Within its mission, the European Laboratory for Structural Assessment (ELSA Unit) of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) contributes to the European Standards in construction through integrated use of experimental testing and numerical modelling.

The past prenormative research performed at JRC/ELSA has significantly contributed to bringing the Eurocodes to their present stage, especially EN 1998 - Eurocode 8, which covers the design of all civil engineering structures in seismic zones. Since 1992, several reference tests on large-scale models on which chapters of the current normative documents are based, have been conducted at the ELSA reaction wall facility. Typical examples include the seismic design of reinforced concrete buildings with tempcore reinforcing steel, the design of composite buildings, the influence of infill panels on the behaviour of frame structures, as well as the assessment and retrofitting of existing vulnerable constructions.

In December 2004, the Directorate-General Enterprise & Industry (DG ENTR) has signed with the JRC an Administrative Arrangement to get support for the Implementation, harmonisation and further development of the Eurocodes. In this context and in line with the Commission Recommendation to the Member States issued in December 2003 on the implementation and use of Eurocodes for construction works and structural construction products, JRC/ELSA has assumed the task to prepare and maintain the official website of the European Commission on the Eurocodes. The opening of this website is timely since the EN Eurocodes are currently entering the period of implementation as National Standards and use by the profession.

The first section of the website, prepared in collaboration with CEN/TC250, gives an introduction to the Eurocodes and the European standardisation system. The website also provides guidance on the implementation and use of the Eurocodes, including aspects of training, which are of immediate priority. Matters related to the maintenance and further harmonisation of the Eurocodes are dealt with in dedicated sections. Finally, looking towards the future, the website provides information on the research to be conducted in support to the development of the next generation of Eurocodes.

Within the Administrative Arrangement and in addition to the development of the website, the JRC together with national experts from various European countries is involved in: (i) setting-up a database of the Nationally Determined Parameters so as to support further harmonisation, (ii) facilitating the work of networks for further development of the European standards for construction and construction products, (iii) creating a database of background documents on the Eurocodes and (iv) collecting and preparing informative/training material and organising promotion/training workshops and seminars.

Our ambition is that the website will actively involve all stakeholders, namely the European Commission, Member States, Accession and Candidate countries, construction industry, research and academic communities, in order to contribute to keeping the Eurocodes the most up-to-date usable codes of practice. Such coordinated effort will enhance the benefits arising from the establishment of the single market, particularly pertaining to the safety of the citizen and the competitiveness of the European construction industry.